Mobile Gift Cards from Target Corporation

Julie Ask

Target is now allowing gift cards to be loaded onto an online account that can be accessed from your cell phone. You can actually pay for stuff with your cell phone. Yay! See Target's press release.

I know they aren't the first. Many versions I've seen before, however, have been small scale pilots or in foreign countries. Many scenarios I've seen also are "closed" pilots among the 3-4 parties in an ecosystem that it took to string a trial together. Target has 1740 stores ... there's a bit of scale in this solution.

So, how does it work?

First, you buy a gift card. I bought the one with the cute Target dog.

Gift card

Then you pull the sticker off of the back so you can see the codes. I purchased a $20 gift card.

Instructions for using mobile gift cards as well as promotions are on Target.com. Using their available media - Web site - to promote the new offer? Well done.

Instructions

Interestingly though, this site ONLY had instructions for the mobile gift cards. I couldn't find a link on this site to regisiter my mobile gift card. This confusion for me is probably the only thing I could find to "ding" them on, so to speak. I'd expect that one of their next rounds of Web site updates would add this link.

I did find the link on their mobile Web site.

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Prospects for 2D, QR and Other Proprietary Codes?

Julie Ask

Marketers - pay attention. This is an example that seems great in theory, but the "devil is in the details" of the implementation so to speak. This is among the top inquiries I hear from clients, "what do you think about 2D barcodes or QR codes as a means of connecting with customers?" I took this inquiry from a CPG client just a couple of weeks ago. I laid out the challenges. Their response was, "well, we're doing it anyway." Piloting is good - just go into it with your eyes wide open.

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Apple's iPad - A Day in the Life of a New Product Launch

Julie Ask

I've just returned from Apple's launch of the new iPad. Am exhausted from the anticipation and the intensity of the event. For a full analysis of the iPad, please check out the blog posts from my colleagues James McQuivey and Charles Golvin. See yesterday's blog. They were really dead on with their comments. I'm sure they'll post more today.

I was there so I got to touch the big iPod Touch-esque iPad. Curved edges. Not too heavy. Great video resolution - if there is HD video. (Watching full screen low resolution YouTube clips posted by European soccer fans - average). Baseball isn't my thing, but the MLB app with integrated video - looked sweet.

- Browsing - good.

- Photos - I like taking photos and I like slide shows so this was one of my favorite features - the iLife-esque photo slidesshows with music. For me as a photographer, this would be more about showing photos than creating the slide shows on the device - fun way to share with friends. Apple - if you're listening - next on my wishlist is iLife photo editing on one of these devices. I want to travel with this device, transfer photos from my fat Nikon to this, delete, edit and then sync back to my computer at home so I can then sync to my Apple TV ... could you see a mini-iLife for $9.99 for this device please?

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SMS Donations

Julie Ask

I've been fielding quite a few requests about why donations via text messaging have done so well and why donations to Haiti via SMS have set new all time high's. I am in Cambridge, MA this week. I was walking around Central Square yesterday evening, and I noticed how many promotions there are for donating via SMS. I was surprised.

Why is it doing so well?

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2010 mobile trends

Thomas Husson

Having reviewed the 2009 trends, it’s now time to make some predictions for 2010!

I’m not going to say that 2010 will be “the year of mobile” or “the year of mobile marketing”. I think 2010 is more likley to be the "year that every firms needs a mobile strategy". Mobile is simply too disruptive to merely have a year. After all, who remembers the year of the TV or the year of the Internet? Instead, I think 2010 will be a key year in mobile's transition to center stage in the digital marketplace.

A new mobile decade is opening up, and now is the time to start your journey. In the past 10 years, mobile phones have changed the way we communicate and live. In the next 10 years, they will change the way we do business.

Rudy De Waelem a famous mobile blogger and event organizer, decided this year to ask many contributors to publish their thoughts for the coming mobile decade. I didn't contribute to it and it would be a bit late to join the bandwagon now that this slideshare presentation is the most read one, but I invite you to have a look at the below. Very inspiring! and congrats Rudy for your idea.

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Mobile Services: How to calculate the ROI and justify the budget you need

Julie Ask

Few consumer-facing product and service companies AREN'T working on their mobile strategy today. Everyone is thinking about how best to engage with their customers on their cell phones. And, can you even do NEW customer acquisition with teenagers or young adults without a mobile option?

Many mobile initiatives start without a plan or a strategy. They start with:

"Our CMO was observing his teenage daughter use her cell phone ...."

"Our competitors have an iPhone application. My boss told me to get one for us."

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What warrants an SMS alert?

Julie Ask

I get this question a lot from clients. I think it is a hard question to answer and will differ by person. I think I'm going to start a list of what does and what doesn't. Media companies and advertisers like to use SMS to cut through the clutter of Email inboxes and ensure the message is delivered "now."

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2009 mobile trends reviewed

Thomas Husson

A year ago, I posted an entry about what I thought would be the key trends for 2009.

I'll stick to my comments and continue to believe that regulation had a stronger impact on the mobile sector than the economic crisis. The recent announcement that the French telecom regulation authority eventually (after years after back and forth discussions and lobbying) granted the 4th 3G license to Free/Iliad (one of the largest ISPs) is a good example of that. The new entrant will not launch before early 2012 but aims at captuting 10% market share by introducing cheaper tariffs (a competitive 3 hour package for less than 20€), bundling Internet access and offering interesting conditions to MVNOs. Evolution of termination rates or roaming tariffs as well as other regulations on spectrum have a much greater impact on operators' bottom line than reduced spending from consumers. 

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Mobile Banking in Arabia - What's Driving Adoption?

Julie Ask

 

I recently returned from a trip to the UAE (Dubai mostly) and Oman. While there I did a bit of research on my own - just talking to folks about how they use their cell phones and so forth. I also had the chance to interview the head of mobile banking services in EMEA for a large, global bank. More on how global banks are avoiding building new branches by offering mobile banking services in another post. 

First, I took the public bus from Dubai to Oman. The average income per family in Oman is far below that in the States - probably less than half. Gas and other utilities are cheap as is education and healthcare. That said, we know that cell phone usage has little to do with income. One of the first things I noticed is how many of the men had at least two cell phones. My initial hypothesis was a work phone and a personal phone. I was soon corrected by my guide who drove me  up to Jebel Shams. In a country where men can have more than one wife, apparently more than one cell phone is necessary. My guide's father has five current wives, but has had nine all together. My guide had two cell phones and a lot more SIM cards. 

My guide was 37 years of age. He had four children and seemed to have an about average income. He worked in sales when he wasn't serving as a guide. He's probably easily one of the most sophisticated cell phone users I've ever met. His cell phone was his portable media player for both music and video. I was astonished by the number of videos he had sideloaded from YouTube. The ringtones were pretty much driving me crazy after about 15 hours in a car with him road tripping. He only had a couple of different ring tones and his phone rang a lot. 

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HITFIX - Local Entertainment Recommendations on the iPhone

Julie Ask

HitFix launched their iPhone application at the beginning of last week. They basic service provides entertainment - movie, TV, performing arts - listings near where you are or where you live.  

I judge the quality of mobile services within the context of the Convenience Quotient. (See report). I define the benefits of mobile services as immediacy (value of having the information or service now), simplicity and context. This service does all three fairly well though I'd like to see it do more.

Immediacy - let's me see what is playing nearby and soon. Would love to see the application go beyond pure forms of entertainment like films and TV, but this is a starting place. I would have liked to see local festivals and street fairs ... or "Christmas Tree Lighting in GG Park," but I know this is hard. 

Simplicity - Let's me link to an area to purchase movie tickets from within the application. That seems basic, but it is not a no-brainer to get all of these partnerships lined up. If it could link to my DirectTV DVR service so I could record TV shows I find within the application, that would be cool. 

Context - uses my location/shows me what is nearby.

They also do well to help with discovery by promoting the iPhone application with two banner ads on their home screen. The link falls short though by simply connecting me to the Apple web site where I can download iTunes - it doesn't give me directions for finding the application within the App store or give me much of a description. 

Here's a screen shot:

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